Immune Disorders

Can Allergy, Hay Fever, or Asthma Increase the Risk of Migraine?

Immune disorders, such as asthma and seasonal allergies, are more prevalent in those who suffer from migraine and other headache types, including chronic headaches. Those who have allergic rhinitis may be as much as 14 times more likely to suffer from migraine headaches than those who do not. One large study found that the likelihood of either migraine or other types of headache was 1.5 times higher in those who had asthma, hay fever, or chronic bronchitis.

Looking at it a little differently, migraine sufferers have a 1.3 times higher risk of developing asthma than non-migraineurs. So, if you have headaches, and you think you have allergies, there could very well be a connection. It might be a good idea to get it checked out. If you have allergic rhinitis and you think it is causing sinus headaches, seek treatment. Make sure it really is a sinus infection, though, before asking for an antibiotic, as migraines can mimic sinus area pain.

References:

1. Becker C, Brobert GP, Almqvist PM, et al. The risk of newly diagnosed asthma in migraineurs with or without previous triptan prescriptions. Headache. 2008;48(4):606-610. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18194300
2. Ku M, Silverman B, Prifti N, et al. Prevalence of migraine headaches in patients with allergic rhinitis. Ann. Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;97(2):226-230. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16937756
3. Tietjen GE, Herial NA, Hardgrove J, Utley C, White L. Migraine comorbidity constellations. Headache. 2007;47(6):857-865. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17578536
4. Aamodt AH, Stovner LJ, Langhammer A, Hagen K, Zwart J. Is headache related to asthma, hay fever, and chronic bronchitis? The Head-HUNT Study. Headache. 2007;47(2):204-212. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17300360
5. Davey G, Sedgwick P, Maier W, et al. Association between migraine and asthma: matched case-control study. Br J Gen Pract. 2002;52(482):723-727.
by Christina Peterson
updated Feb 8, 2010